I was told the story of the fleas many years ago by a good friend in Athens, Greece. He explained that if you were to somehow acquire a jar of fleas, you could try a little experiment:
Put the fleas in a glass jar. Cover it with a glass lid, and then put a small flame under it. As things become hot and uncomfortable for them where the flame is, at the bottom of the jar, the fleas will jump away from the heat and you will begin to hear them as they hit the glass lid-but only for a short period. You see, the fleas learn that the glass lid also causes discomfort as their little heads hit it, and so they jump just high enough and just often enough to evade the discomfort of the heat at the bottom of the glass, and the pain of the lid at the top of the glass. They learn to avoid discomfort.
The crazy thing about this little experiment is that if you take off the lid, the fleas will go on jumping that same height, assuming that the flames will always be there, and that so will that glass lid. The circumstances of life and their environments have programmed their behaviors. They become conditioned to accept certain limitations and see things as permanent. They are resigned to the belief that they can’t escape, and that their fate has been decided. All they would have to do is try one more time to jump out of the glass jar and the whole world would be opened unto them, but they have been conditioned, trained, and programmed, to believe it is impossible to escape the fate to which they have allowed themselves to be resigned to.
How many times in our lives have we gone through something similar to this and still behave in the same, exact manner?
We humans sometimes adopt similar behaviors in our lives. We avoid pain and prefer pleasure. Common sense, right? NO ONE likes to suffer.
There are other ways to BE. There are actually some people who choose to literally cause themselves pain and suffering to become stronger, faster, and smarter. Think of Marines, or Navy Seals. Think of entrepreneurs. They don’t compare themselves to others. They strive to be the BEST version of themselves, ALWAYS, knowing that as they consistently do their best, their best consistently gets better. THEY HAVE NO LID. If there is a lid, just like a stone carver hitting the same, exact spot HUNDREDS of times, knowing that just ONE MORE TIME may be the required, accumulated amount of pressure needed for the desired break, THEY KEEP TRYING. They don’t conform, or desire to fit into a box that the majority of people are comfortable in. Instead, they lean into what is uncomfortable and unknown, knowing and having faith that on the other side of this discomfort or pain is the possibility of growth, or strength, all the while being fully aware of the chance they get hurt, die, or experience failure.
Growth-minded individuals that seek limitless expansion choose only to compare themselves to themselves, and who they were yesterday. They seek out growth opportunities. They push themselves. They question everything. They keep trying to jump through that glass ceiling until they break through it or it has been removed.
WE ARE ALL PROGRAMMED AND TAUGHT FEOM BIRTH TO CONFORM AND FIT INTO A TINY GLASS BOX, AND TO ONLY OPERATE FROM WITHIN THESE CONFINES. THE TRUTH IS, THERE IS NO BOX.
As human beings, we are all blessed with the strength, opportunities, and abilities to do and be anything we have the courage to do and be.
Most of us choose to continuously exist in a box or a comfort zone, and we have learned to avoid pain and pursue pleasure. We find what works for us, and what is comfortable. There is nothing wrong with this. Some desire to think and live outside the box, choosing to feel uncomfortable, seeking something else. There is nothing wrong with this, either. They are simply different ways of creating a personal reality.
The beauty of this life, and the beauty of being humans, is that we all have the dignity of choice. If ever the threat exists that this is taken from us, WE MUST FIGHT TO KEEP IT.
Acceptance of, encouraging and respecting the journey of others, and allowing them the dignity of choice, is sometimes uncomfortable for us. Why? Is it because we think they should think, speak, and behave like us?
Others want to experiment with different experiences, and we are sometimes uncomfortable with it. Why? They want to venture out and explore the possibilities and find something better for themselves, and we desire to hold them back. Why? Is it some in-born, innate, programmed desire to protect them, or are we afraid they will expose us as lacking the courage they have? What is it that causes us to judge and criticize others for experimenting with different lifestyles or possibilities that we haven’t even tried?
Today I will think of the story of the fleas and I will ask myself, “What is MY glass ceiling?” Am I holding myself back from experiencing my full potential in any way? Am I actively holding anyone else back in any way? If so, how? What would I need to do to experience a breakthrough?
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Remember: Mindset matters. Character counts. That which we choose to consistently focus on is what EXPANDS in our lives. WE CREATE our realities.